Getting your Kids to Master Back to School Manners

August 28, 2015


At my house in the summer we all get a little wild. We stay up too late, we don’t always brush our hair, and sometimes we even go barefoot. But in a few short days the school bells will ring and it will be back to civilization, which means it is also time that we are all back to being on our best behaviour. Children who understand how to behave in the classroom and who use good manners will have a more positive academic experience and be better able to participate in class and enjoy their day at school.

It can be very hard though for children to make the transition from a laid-back summer attitude to school ready manners — so I’ve put together my top five tips for mastering back to school manners.

1. Have a rule refresher

If you’ve been very relaxed about your manners all summer and you can’t remember the last time your child said please when they asked for something — then you really need to refresh your child on expectations. Go over all of the “magic words,” there are at least five (please, thank you, excuse me, I’m sorry and you’re welcome). Remind them when, how, where and why they should be used.

2. Praise them for saying please (and thank you)

Now that you’ve reestablished the ground rules — congratulate your children for putting them into action. Every time they remember to say please or thank your or they are courteous – praise them for their behaviour. Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective ways to change a behaviour!


Impress Potential Employers with Excellent Interview Etiquette

August 25, 2015


With September just around the corner — that means it’s time for back to school for university students. For university students heading into their final year, this fall is a critical time as job interview season begins.

Job interviews can be very stressful particularly for university students who haven’t had experience in the process but with a few simple tips the job interview process can be significantly more pleasant and successful. In my experience even the best credentials can’t make up for an unpleasant or impolite candidate.

So here are my top five tips for professional and polished job interview.

1. Formal First

No one will ever be offended if you treat them with respect. Throughout the interview process communicate respectfully and professionally with your potential employer. Use formal address (Mr. and Ms.) until asked otherwise and maintain that professional tone across your emails and other forms of communication. Remember that this is a potential boss not your buddy.

2. Do Your Homework

In order to understand what kind of interview environment you are heading into you must prepare. Connect with human resources and current employees to learn about the office culture and their process. Read the news and the company website to ensure you know everything there is to know about the company and the people who you will be meeting with to ensure you are able to speak confidently with every individual you have the opportunity to connect with during the interview process. An added benefit- it is much easier to remember the names of potential employers, which are the most embarrassing things to forget, if you have reviewed them before you meet.

3. Dress the Part

When deciding on your interview outfit — put yourself in the position of the employer. What will they see when you walk in? Make sure your choice reflects your knowledge of the office dress culture (e.g. formal grey suits and flannel, fashion forward, upscale casual etc.). Your wardrobe choice should be consistent with the office dress but it should be the most polished version. So for example if it’s a technology firm with a casual dress policy — perhaps select a chic sweater dress or simple trousers, a collared shirt and a blazer. You want to ensure you fit in but also stand out as an incredible candidate.

4. Be Polite

This is the time to remember your manners. Yes please, no thank you and excuse me are all extremely valuable words to use. Also remember to greet and smile at people you meet throughout the process and if you get the chance to introduce yourself, please take it and don’t forget to shake hands and make direct eye contact. Every great impression can give you an edge in a competitive interview process.

5. Say “Thank You”

Regardless of whether or not you get the job, you need to say thank you! Ideally a handwritten thank you note expressing your gratitude for the opportunity should be sent as soon as possible following the interview. If you have secured the job — kudos — let your future employer know how excited you are for the opportunity. If it’s a no — still send that note! Thank them for their time and consideration and let them know you look forward to the opportunity to meet again in the future.

The job interview process can be a daunting one, full of lots of “no’s” but if you put your best foot forward even an unsuccessful interview can lead to a future opportunity. If you approach every interview with polished and professional interview etiquette you are guaranteed to have a much more rewarding experience and will ultimately help you land the job that you always wanted.

5 Ways to Be the Ultimate Cottage Host

July 31, 2015


These hot and humid summer days mean that it’s time for Canadians to head North to enjoy the great outdoors and a favourite Canadian destination — the COTTAGE!

One of the gre

at joys of having a cottage is welcoming friends and family to come and visit. However many cottage guests are not regular cottagers and because every cottage is so different, it falls to the cottage host to take a few extra steps to ensure a wonderful visit is had by all.

Here are my top five tips that will earn you the title of ultimate cottage host.


How Not To Get Thrown Out Of Restaurants When Dining With Kids

July 25, 2015


This week there was a very troubling story on social media about a restaurant owner in Maine and a confrontation she had with a young family. The story goes that a family had a young child in the restaurant, that the child was crying loudly for a prolonged period of time and after hinting at the family that they should leave, the restaurant owner finally “had it” and yelled, “This has got to stop,” in the direction of the family. This has led to lots of angry exchanges on social media but the real lesson is that restaurants need to set families up for success and families need to understand how to dine out respectfully with their children.

Fortunately with a few simple strategies we can all be enjoying our favourite restaurants with our children. Here are my top five tips for families dining out with children:

1. Dress Rehearsal

To have a stellar performance it is vital to rehearse. I recommend having a “fancy dress” rehearsal dinner (ideally two or three) at home to practice, making sure to go through all the steps the children would experience at a restaurant. Set the table, make a menu, let the children order, make them wait — it may take a few tries but once you’ve really practiced, you and your children will feel confident taking their restaurant ready skills for a test-drive.

2. Timing is Everything

No one is happy when they are “hangry” and that goes double for children. I recommend booking as closely as possible to the time your children would typically eat that meal, so for dinners for example I like the earliest reservations, ideally around 6:30 p.m. Other timing tips include; order as soon as you arrive (online menus can help here if you decide in advance) and don’t plan to stay too long, under an hour for children under 6 and 1.5 hours is a good target for older children.

3. Flattery will get you everywhere

We all love a good compliment and the same thing goes for children building a skill. So praise and reward often for every little step they’re taking towards being dining dynamos. Sitting nicely, napkins on lap, saying please, excuse me, thank you. Congratulate them on every one. Tell them how proud you are and let them know how much you love spending time together out as a family.

4. When in Doubt, Distract

Delays are inevitable at a restaurant, so to manage the wait savvy parents should come prepared with various distractions including active conversations, I-Spy games, crayons and paper, small books or puzzles and in the event of emergency — an IPad (on silent) at the table is better than a child having a meltdown but clearly a sign that more “rehearsal” is required.

5. Have an Escape Plan

As any veteran parent will tell you despite your best intentions and preparations, there is always the chance that your idyllic family dinner out takes a turn for the worse and the tears and crankiness begin. If things go wrong, signal your waiter hand them your credit card, ask for takeout containers and exit as quickly as possible. As parents, we all know when the party is over.

For Restauranteurs you can set even your tiniest diners up for success by creating an environment that makes them feel welcome. Children’s menus, quick service for families, and being empathetic to families if things do take a turn for the worse by helping them to settle their bill and exit quickly will all make a huge difference.

Using this approach I have been fortunate to have wonderful experiences in restaurants with my family, even when things took a “turn for the worse” with my kids. Even though it is well rehearsed — their dining etiquette is still a work in progress.

Happy Dining!


3 wise investments you can give your tween and early teen

July 22, 2015

YMC - Kids at Etiquette School


The tween and teen years can be awkward. As some of my kids approach this age, I’ve pulled in some professionals to help teach them skills that will come in handy as they navigate this tricky phase of life.

Etiquette Class

Yes, of course my kids are taught manners and do not act like animals at the table. But I wanted them introduced to more formal dining etiquette that they’re not generally exposed to. I also thought it would be useful for them to understand the importance of manners and first impressions as they enter into adulthood. And so I sent them off to etiquette class! They sat through a 3-course meal, learned everything there is to know about which fork to use when, and all sorts of amazing tricks to help them remember the rules of formal dining. Much to their surprise, they loved it so much that I received beautiful thank you letters from each of them to show their appreciation for the opportunity. I’m thankful for Lisa Orr Etiquette classes for turning my hooligans into proper little people!

Nutrition Class

As kids get older, they have more autonomy and make a lot of their own choices. I thought it would be useful for them to better understand nutrition so that they are equipped to make healthy food choices when outside of the home. Laura from Williamson’s Wellness came to our house and engaged my kids in an amazing session on nutrition, reading food labels and sharing information about health and wellness. My kids were completely fascinated and implement what they learned that day. We have continued to have an on-going discussion around healthy food choices.

Skin Care

A local mom who has a skincare business came and visited my kiddos and talked to them about skin types and skin care. The timing couldn’t be better as a few of mine are entering the acne phase of life. She taught them about proper cleaning, moisturizing and protecting your skin from the sun. My kids were delighted with all they learned and are facing their acne years with some knowledge and know how!

So now I can re-name each of my children “Miss Manners” and they can smile back at me with their acne-free faces while preparing a kale salad. Okay, let’s be real – they’re still my kids – but giving them a little extra confidence in these areas has gone a long way.